In writing an invited article for the international journal Prabuddha Bhrata, I was so bold as to speculate about the prophecized End of Times. In retrospect, I’m having second, third and fourth thoughts.
Here’s what I wrote:
. . . wherein is consolation to be found during the present difficult times? For Hindu sages foresaw them. We are now enduring the decline described as the Kali Yuga. Christ similarly foretold the End of Times. It lies in this. Time does not exist for accomplished sages who dwell in the eternal center of the Life Wheel. To enlightened beings, it is but an illusion. They experience themselves as eternal, at one with the Creator. For them, life will go on whether or not the world as we now know it continues. If even for this reason alone, seeking inner enlightenment is an urgent priority.
How can one really know about such things? Such opinions are necessarily based on hearsay, albeit the testimony of sages is consistent on such matters.
To the point is a description of time as a fourth dimension in the marvelously articulate and entertaining book The Tao of Meditation:Way to Enlightenment by Tsung Hwa Jou. He writes:
Like the shadow, which cannot perceive something above or below its plane, we live in a three-dimensional world, able only to experience reality in segments of time.
According to Mr. Jou, Man’s epistemologies and methodologies are all right from a three-dimensional point of view, and since this is our only possible viewpoint, they constitute the best means to the truth about our reality. Every religion, philosophy, or science is right in three dimension. . . with this caveat: these partial approaches to truth are like different windows in a large building. Each affords us a different view of the outdoors. A unified perspective, however, is gained only by leaving the building.
What is the shape of life from a four-dimensional point of view? . . . Suppose there are sentient beings who have a natural capacity to see the four-dimensional shape of things. They could tell us what the shape of our life is; that is, they could see all at once what to us is separated as past, present and future.
Likewise, he assures us that in the fourth dimension, birth and death are not separate, discrete experiences, but rather part of an ongoing, continuous whole. Our birth and death are just another transformation of one form to another.
In sum, he agrees with other accomplished meditators who regard time as we experience it as but an illusion. The perception of beginnings and endings is the result of human limitations – being capable of seeing in only three dimensions.
Why does this matter to us NOW? Look at it this way. Mr. Jou’s Motive, his WHY appears to be a kindhearted desire to share wisdom received from direct experience, for which he is infinitely grateful. His Purpose, the HOW is to detail in a book the methods and benefits of meditation along with the supporting science which explains its effectiveness. His Intended end result, the WHAT, is to give readers a time-tested way to improve the quality of daily life for both individuals and their social combinations:
If people began to think past the limitation of three-dimensions, there would be more respect between men in the business of living together for the common good. Three-dimensional tensions would dissolve, and a spirit of cooperation and mutual generosity would spring up in human affairs.
But he also admits that describing direct experience of the fourth dimension is like describing the taste of an apple to someone who has never eaten one. Similarly, he describes a mother frog who answers her babies’ questions about sunlight, trees and land by telling them they’ll have to wait until they mature, shed their tails and swim to the surface of the pond to experience what’s beyond for themselves:
We who philosophize about time, we who are limited to three dimensions are like a school of tadpoles wondering about another world. Until we too are able to “drop our tails” and step into that dimension, time must remain a subject of speculation to us, as a drinking glass is to a shadow. Until we can experience time as a dimensional context, it must remain a flat reflection to us as the upper world is to the water-bound tadpole.
The question/challenge for us as tadpole-like humans is HOW do we get from here (three-dimensional, conflict-driven either-or thinking) to there (fourth-dimensional awareness within and beneficial, harmonious relationships with others in the world).
Training the mind to expand awareness has been the systematic task of monastic Asian traditions throughout the ages. At the current “time,” the benefits of meditation – significantly improved awareness and effectiveness – may well be a matter of both individual and collective survival.
To that end, I’ve been looking through an assortment of books, each of which opens a different window on the subject of Spiritual Intelligence. In the PB article, I placed this term in the larger context of the two-directional, multi-layered Life Wheel:
In terms of clinical psychology, intelligence at the outermost level is described as IQ, at the middle level as EQ (emotional intelligence) and at the third as SQ (spiritual intelligence)..The levels, which actually flow along continuum, neither separate nor totally distinct, are linked in an infinite loop. The one who succeeds in joining them, living here and yet there, in the world but not of it, enjoys the experience of enlightenment – Christ Consciousness.
Each of the books on SQ (or SI) has its own point of reference, for example quantum physics, Christianity, etc. Interestingly, there’s also a forthcoming book on SI by and for Muslims based on teachings from the Koran. While a detailed summary is beyond the parameters of the current discussion, suffice it to say that although each author defines spiritual intelligence differently, they share a common intent.
Unfortunately, another thing Spiritual Intelligence books share in common is than none have gotten much traction. A quick tour through Amazon books shows that very few have been reviewed or purchased. Spiritual intelligence as a concept isn’t sexy. It is as if the concept is outside the “hearing” range of the general public. Why this remains so and what might be done to change this is yet another subject worthy of investigation and ACTION.
I do know, as do the authors of SI books who repeatedly call for “change,” that the future depends on such a reawakening. In the context of End of Time concerns, I’m reminded of Hexagram 49 of the Book of Change:
Day and night replace each other in endless cycles of CHANGE.
The same natural law generates flux in human events.
The unprepared see change as a threat,
but the well-prepared face the unknown calmly.
They know that after degeneration reaches critical mass,
In other words, one way or the other, preparation on every scale of magnitude will definitely make a great difference in the outcomes of as yet unforeseen futures waiting to be born. Overcoming the limitations of our current either/or way of thinking is an important first step. For, to repeat, as Einstein warned us, “We shall require a substantially different manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.”
For starters, thinking about this admittedly limited linear Essay on limitations may be helpful.
Essay 10. LIMITATIONS
“The Chinese concept of change, which gives the I Ching its validity, has found its echo in chaos theory. The concepts presented by this theory give us vital information about how the I Ching functions. Understanding this may help us cross the bridge between determinist rationality and chance, and go further toward our comprehension of this age-old system, which could have a profound influence on the rest of our lives”. — Cyrille Javary, Understanding the I Ching
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds
Or bends with the remover to remove.
Oh no! It is an ever fixèd mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken.
— William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116
“The Bible encodes all the possibilities, and what we do determines the actual outcome. . .The only thing that can be predicted is the probability of different events. Yet quantum physics is a highly successful branch of science. It works. Perhaps because it recognizes uncertainty as a part of reality. In the same way, the Bible code works . . . because it recognizes uncertainty as part of reality.” — Michael Drosnin, The Bible Code
A limit is a point, line or edge where something ends or must end, a boundary or border beyond which something ceases to be or to be possible. A limitation is something that limits, as some factor in make-up which restricts the scope of a person’s qualifications, activity, or accomplishment. In law, it’s a period of time, fixed by statute, during which legal action can be brought, as for settling a claim.
On the positive side, we limit ourselves consciously by choosing how to allocate our attention, time and effort. This is called discipline and commitment. On the negative side, we unconsciously diminish our potentials, tying them up in knots of insecurity and doubt. Attitude limitations are as debilitating as physical handicaps. Often they’re unconsciously acquired, internalized by cultural conditioning and negative suggestions. Identifying and correcting these attitudes, overcoming unnecessary limitations, is essential to personal growth and fulfillment.
Rules of empirical science limit the field of knowledge to tangible things. Yet when we exclude the data of extra-sensory experience, we impoverish our lives. Instinct is a survival mechanism built into animals and humans alike. Dogs and horses, however, are sometimes more savvy about people than we are; they’re not fooled by false appearances. Intuition, however, is a gift exclusive to humans. It flashes on inventive thinkers when they see new possibilities or dream of futures not yet born.
The I Ching supplies a method for revitalizing instinct and intuition gone numb through suppression or lack of attention. It helps us link the middle octave of reason with the lower and higher octaves of experience, expanding our range of hearing and awareness.
People raised exclusively on empirical science limit their concept of love and joy to tangibles — physical beauty and sex appeal. When youth fades, marriage partners who lack wisdom are tempted to break their vows. Using the I Ching, however, helps fine-tune awareness of what changes, as well as that which remains constant. Using the I Ching as the foundation of realistic relationships, we build the inner consistency necessary to sustain commitments and complete long-term goals.
But just as an individual’s time on Earth is limited, civilizations and even planets pass in due course. At each stage in history, wisdom appropriate to the times is revealed to those who seek. Drosnin speculates that Newton’s intuited but evasive Bible code was purposefully hidden until the time that computers were invented to unlock it. Similarly, Einstein’s Unified Theory eluded him because he lacked yogic I Ching wisdom. In turn, it may well be that the extraordinary value of this text has been hidden for centuries, waiting for public understanding of binary-digital computer code, energy chakras and DNA genome theory to revolutionize our approach to the Book of Change.
The opposite of limitations is the unlimited. We call this infinity or the unknowable unknown. We are told we have unlimited potentials, but on the material plane they are framed by choice and the structure of whatever language we speak. Only the unfathomable, unnameable essence referred to as the timeless Tao or God — the alpha-omega source of creation — is truly without limitation.
When humans defy natural limitations of time, space and form, they are said to be delusional. When they behave in reckless, unrestrained ways, in defiance of their mortality, acting as if they were invincible and above the law, this is arrogance and sheer ignorance. Knowing one’s place in the universe is wisdom; resisting it is futile.